A mysterious place, at the same time magical and demonic: the lake in the heart of the Sibillini Mountains National Park.
Close to the summit of Monte Vettore, at 1941 metres above sea level, hides a charming natural lake of glacial origin: Pilato Lake.
The lake is actually formed by two small basins, once joined together, which from above resemble the typical shape of glasses.
The lake, on the border between Umbria and Marche, is set in an Apennine landscape of extraordinary beauty but incredible fragility.
Just think of its size: in ancient times it measured 900 metres wide and about 9 metres deep. Strong climatic changes, the absence of snow and, it is thought, the presence of underground karst channels linked to the sources of a river, have reduced the size and flow of the water until it has almost completely dried up.
We all hope that this winter's heavy snowfall will allow us to admire Pilato Lake at its most beautiful this summer!
A magical place full of mysteries and legends.
The best known is the one linked to the name of the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate: after being executed, on the orders of Titus, for the crucifixion of Jesus, he was transported by a buffalo cart to the Cima del Redentore and thrown into the lake.
Another legend has it that the Lake of Pilate was Lake Avernus, which led through inaccessible places to the underworld. In the 13th century, the religious authorities, considering it a place of witches and necromancers, even forbade access with a gallows at the entrance to the valley.
In ancient times, the basin was also known as Lake of the Sibyl, named after the Apennine Prophetess, who in the 15th century became the object of travel and exploration by scholars and adventurers.
Close to Mount Sibilla, one of the peaks of the mountain range, inside a cave, the Sibyl's palace seems to be hidden, full of precious treasures and damsels of enchanting beauty.
Another mystery is linked to the "Gran Pietra" (Great Stone), found in the lake, a dark stele on which incomprehensible letters are engraved, perhaps sacrificial, and still the subject of studies.
One of the most incredible discoveries linked to Lake Pilato was made in 1954 by Professor Marchesoni.
During his explorations in the Apennines, the academic discovered a small red 'shrimp' measuring just 12 mm in the waters of the lake.
Marchesonii Chirocephalus swims backwards with its belly towards the surface.
Subsequent studies showed that this is a unique species, endemic to the area, and that it demonstrates a strong ability to adapt to high seasonal stress.
The species is now at risk of extinction: the eggs are laid on the shores of the lake, among the dry rocks, and unfortunately, hikers approaching or diving in the lake jeopardise its birth.
Trekking routes of extraordinary beauty start from Foce di Montemonaco, Colle di Montegallo or Forca di Presta, which offers a magical view of the Castelluccio plateau.
Trekking at Pilato Lake
Trekking Sibillini Mountains